Cantlay closed with a 1-under 71 and won the Memorial for the second time in three years, and he said he felt the same range of emotions in the final hour at Muirfield Village in his duel with Collin Morikawa.
But it wasn’t the same.
Only a day earlier, Cantlay walked off the 18th green six shots behind Rahm, whose 64 ranked as one of the great rounds at the course Jack Nicklaus built and tied two Memorial records, including largest 54-hole lead.
But he tested positive for the coronavirus – Rahm had been in the contact tracing protocol – and was withdrawn from the tournament.
Just like that, Cantlay and Morikawa went from six shots behind to tied for the lead.
And for so much of the final round, it stayed that way. Morikawa surged ahead with an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-5 15th, while Cantlay missed birdie putts from 8 feet to tie him on the 15th, and then on the par-3 16th.
The round was halted for about five minutes because of a pop-up downpour while they were on the 17th green. When it resumed, Cantlay holed a 25-foot birdie putt to tie, and Morikawa stayed in the game with a 12-foot par.
Cantlay had a 25-foot birdie putt for the win on the 18th in regulation that grazed the right side of the cup, leaving he and Morikawa (71) at 13-under 275.
Rahm finished his 54 holes at 18-under 198, tying the Memorial record. No one had ever lost a lead that large in the final round at Muirfield Village, though it has happened six times on the PGA Tour, most recently by Dustin Johnson in Shanghai in 2017.
Nicklaus figured the awkward situation for Cantlay and Morikawa would be one more element for them to battle.
“It was such a weird situation, so unfortunate,” Cantlay said. “Everyone, me included, knows it would be totally different today if that hadn’t happened. But there’s nothing I could do about it. I tried as hard as I could to reset and refocus.”
It led to the fourth victory of his PGA Tour career, and second this season. Cantlay also won the ZoZo Championship in California last October, rallying from a three-shot deficit to beat Rahm and Justin Thomas.
He becomes the seventh player to win multiple times at the Memorial, a list that starts with Tiger Woods winning five times and even Nicklaus, the tournament founder, winning twice.
Morikawa won at Muirfield Village last year, just not the Memorial. He won in a playoff against Thomas at the Workday Charity Open, a one-time even when the pandemic forced the John Deere Classic to be canceled.
In that tournament, Morikawa twice had to watch as Thomas had a putt on the 18th green to win, and he survived to win on the third extra hole.
This time, he escaped one birdie chance by Cantlay in regulation. On the 18th in the playoff, Morikawa had a small piece of mud on his ball and came up well short from the fairway into deep rough. He chipped out to 6 feet.
Cantlay was well right and hacked it out into a bunker, but his shot from the wet sand rolled out 12 feet. It was on the same line as his 25-foot birdie attempt in regulation, and this time he poured it in for par. Moments later, Morikawa missed his 6-footer and Cantlay let out a big exhale before going over to shake hands with Nicklaus.
Scottie Scheffler, who started three shots behind after Rahm was knocked out of the tournament, was tied for the lead with a birdie on the 15th. His last chance ended when he missed a 6-foot par putt on the 18th. That gave him a 70, and he finished alone in third, two shots behind.